Borgar-skjold's Son Halfdan The Third Patriarch

: Teutonic Mythology

In the time of Borgar and his son, the third patriarch, many of the

most important events of the myth take place. Before I present these,

the chain of evidence requires that I establish clearly the names

applied to Borgar in our literary sources. Danish scholars have already

discovered what I pointed out above, that the kings Gram Skjoldson,

Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson mentioned by Saxo, and referred

to dif
erent generations, are identical with each other and with Halfdan

the Skjoldung and Halfdan the Old of the Icelandic documents.

The correctness of this view will appear from the following


{Saxo: Gram slays king Sictrugus, and marries Signe,

{ daughter of Sumblus, king of the Finns.

{Hyndluljod: Halfdan Skjoldung slays king Sigtrygg, and

1. { marries Almveig with the consent of Eymund.

{Prose Edda: Halfdan the Old slays king Sigtrygg, and

{ marries Alveig, daughter of Eyvind.

{Fornald. S.: Halfdan the Old slays king Sigtrygg, and

{ marries Alfny, daughter of Eymund.

{Saxo: Gram, son of Skjold, is the progenitor of the Skjoldungs.

{Hyndluljod: Halfdan Skjoldung, son or descendant of

{ Skjold, is the progenitor of the Skjoldungs, Ynglings,

2. { Odlungs, &c.

{Prose Edda: Halfdan the Old is the progenitor of the

{ Hildings, Ynglings, Odlungs, &c.

{Saxo: Halfdan Bogarson is the progenitor of a royal

{ family of Denmark.

{Saxo: Gram uses a club as a weapon. He kills seven

{ brothers and nine of their half-brothers.

{Saxo: Halfdan Berggram uses an oak as a weapon. He

3. { kills seven brothers.

{Saxo: Halfdan Borgarson uses an oak as a weapon. He

{ kills twelve brothers.

{Saxo: Gram secures Groa and slays Henricus on his wedding-day.

{Saxo: Halfdan Berggram marries Sigrutha, after having

4. { slain Ebbo on his wedding-day.

{Saxo: Halfdan Borgarson marries Guritha, after having

{ killed Sivarus on his wedding-day.

{Saxo: Gram, who slew a Swedish king, is attacked in war

{ by Svipdag.

{Saxo: Halfdan Berggram, who slew a Swedish king, is

5. { attacked by Ericus.

{Combined sources: Svipdag is the slain Swedish king's

{ grandson (daughter's son).

{Saxo: Ericus is the son of the daughter of the slain Swedish

{ king.

These parallels are sufficient to show the identity of Gram Skjoldson,

Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson. A closer analysis of these

sagas, the synthesis possible on the basis of such an analysis, and the

position the saga (restored in this manner) concerning the third

patriarch, the son of Skjold-Borgar, and the grandson of Heimdal,

assumes in the chain of mythic events, gives complete proof of this


[Footnote 11: The first nine books of Saxo form a labyrinth constructed

out of myths related as history, but the thread of Ariadne seems to be

wanting. On this account it might be supposed that Saxo had treated the

rich mythical materials at his command in an arbitrary and unmethodical

manner; and we must bear in mind that these mythic materials were far

more abundant in his time than they were in the following centuries,

when they were to be recorded by the Icelandic authors. This supposition

is, however, wrong. Saxo has examined his sources methodically and with

scrutiny, and has handled them with all due reverence, when he assumed

the desperate task of constructing, by the aid of the mythic traditions

and heroic poems at hand, a chronicle spanning several centuries--a

chronicle in which fifty to sixty successive rulers were to be brought

upon the stage and off again, while myths and heroic traditions embrace

but few generations, and most mythic persons continue to exist through

all ages. In the very nature of the case, Saxo was obliged, in order to

solve this problem, to put his material on the rack; but a thorough

study of the above-mentioned books of his history shows that he treated

the delinquent with consistency. The simplest of the rules he followed

was to avail himself of the polyonomy with which the myths and heroic

poems are overloaded, and to do so in the following manner:

Assume that a person in the mythic or heroic poems had three or four

names or epithets (he may have had a score). We will call this person A,

and the different forms of his name A', A'', A'''. Saxo's task of

producing a chain of events running through many centuries forced him to

consider the three names A', A'', and A''' as originally three persons,

who had performed certain similar exploits, and therefore had, in course

of time, been confounded with each other, and blended by the authors of

myths and stories into one person A. As best he can, Saxo tries to

resolve this mythical product, composed, in his opinion, of historical

elements, and to distribute the exploits attributed to A between A',

A'', and A'''. It may also be that one or more of the stories applied to

A were found more or less varied in different sources. In such cases he

would report the same stories with slight variations about A', A'',

and A'''. The similarities remaining form one important group of

indications which he has furnished to guide us, but which can assure us

that our investigation is in the right course only when corroborated by

indications belonging to other groups, or corroborated by statements

preserved in other sources.

But in the events which Saxo in this manner relates about A', A'', and

A''', other persons are also mentioned. We will assume that in the myths

and heroic poems these have been named B and C. These, too, have in the

songs of the skalds had several names and epithets. B has also been

called B', B'', B'''. C has also been styled C', C'', C'''. Out of this

one subordinate person B, Saxo, by the aid of the abundance of names,

makes as many subordinate persons--B', B'', and B'''--as he made out of

the original chief person A--that is, the chief persons A', A'', and

A'''. Thus also with C, and in this way we got the following analogies:

A' is to B' and C' as

A'' B'' C'' and as

A''' B''' C'''.

By comparing all that is related concerning these nine names, we are

enabled gradually to form a more or less correct idea of what the

original myth has contained in regard to A, B, and C. If it then

happens--as is often the case--that two or more of the names A', B', C',

&c., are found in Icelandic or other documents, and there belong to

persons whose adventures are in some respects the same, and in other

respects are made clearer and more complete, by what Saxo tells about

A', A'', and A''', &c., then it is proper to continue the investigation

in the direction thus started. If, then, every new step brings forth new

confirmations from various sources, and if a myth thus restored easily

dovetails itself into an epic cycle of myths, and there forms a

necessary link in the chain of events, then the investigation has

produced the desired result.

An aid in the investigation is not unfrequently the circumstance that

the names at Saxo's disposal were not sufficient for all points in the

above scheme. We then find analogies which open for us, so to speak,

short cuts--for instance, as follows:

A' is to B' and C' as

A'' B' C'' and as

A''' B'' C'.

The parallels given in the text above are a concrete example of the

above scheme. For we have seen--

A=Halfdan, trebled in A'=Gram, A''=Halfdan Berggram, A'''=Halfdan


B=Ebbo (Ebur, Ibor, Joefurr), trebled in B'=Henricus, B''=Ebbo,


C doubled in C'=Svipdag, and C''=Ericus.]